's 2016 Horror Write-off:

What Remains of Concrete Beach

Submitted by Joseph Hartman


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Monday at 2:00 PM EST, during a freak tropical storm, a large seawall broke open in Concrete Beach, NC, flooding the city. Emergency services have been deployed,, but local geography and continuing stormy conditions make rescue efforts impossible.

The seawall was long known to be a structural hazard, but many of the citizens had a sentimental attachment to it, given that it was their city's primary landmark, visible from miles around. Demolition initiatives were unanimously refused, even with the promise of technologically superior replacement.

So far, no survivors have been found of the city's 24,382 citizens. Our hearts and minds are with those with family and friends in Concrete Beach.

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Entry 1:

I must've read that article a hundred times. It's the only reminder I have that I'm not crazy, that Concrete Beach was a real place, and I lived there with my father, Joshua.

The flood was all over headlines, worldwide. It was all people would talk about. But the next day, it was like it never happened. The town didn't exist, wiped off the map. All I could find was a few sparsely populated forums full of people who still remembered Concrete Beach. All of whom used to live there. 

Miraculously, someone took a screenshot, so that's how I keep myself sane. Those forums were my life for a while. Then someone who lived locally decided to go check out the ruins of the town. The next day, the forums were gone, and no one would answer their emails.

That was the moment I knew: 

My name is Simon Grimm, and I'm making a journal so that maybe I can try to dump out a bit of my overflowing brain. Something wants to keep all of this hidden, and that's as much motivation as I need to keep writing. The world needs to know about Concrete Beach.

Call it a suicide note, or a last will and testament, or whatever you want to call it, but I'm going back to Concrete Beach. I've lived a full life. And I've been dabbling in urban exploration the past few years, so I have all the equipment I need to find out what really happened there.

And maybe my dad's alive in there somehow? A stupid hope, but it's something, I guess.

Entry 2:

The first thing that anyone learns when they grow up in Concrete Beach is that it's not exactly a 'normal' town. Even being born in that place, I grasped that when I was around 7 years old.

People like to throw around words like 'paranormal' or 'supernatural' but that brings to mind things like boogeymen, and urban legends. Solid ideas, where the monster 'gets ya', or like how vampires are deathly allergic to garlic. Things with rules, and narratives.

But the supernatural isn't something that goes bump in the night. It's the man with three eyes that you lose track of in a crowd. It's seeing a person in the distance fall up into the sky, growing smaller and smaller until they disappear. 

Just subtle enough to stay hidden. Just real enough to stay with you. Well, most of the time. My dad told me that mom stole skeletons, and I'm still not quite sure whether to believe him or not.

So, was I surprised when I climbed to the top of the hill, and found myself on a big city street, instead of looking down at a waterlogged wreck of a city?

Well, yes. Especially after living elsewhere for so long, it came as a bit of a shock.

It felt darkly nostalgic, too. Like walking into your old childhood bedroom, dusty and cobwebbed. Touching your toybox, and feeling the brittle plastic splinter between your fingers. But, the strange moments from my childhood were nothing like this. Nothing so big or lasting.

I can see the seawall from here, but the hill behind me is gone. Looks like I'm in this for the long haul.

Entry 3:

Concrete Beach didn't have skyscrapers before, and I don't think skyscrapers like these have ever really existed. Huge, stone rectangles, like monoliths or gravestones. No windows, only open doorways, some leading out into open space.

Without any other real landmarks, I started walking to the seawall, but the streets were just as ridiculous as the buildings, which soon became so close together that I was met with the comical sight of a roadway leading directly into an open door. "This way" it seemed to say.

Amazingly, I found some grafitti inside. Some were simple Xs, presumably to denote landmarks in the otherwise non-descript hallways. Others were shockingly beautiful murals, like a detailed, colorful drawing of a cat, still stinking of fresh spraypaint.

Could people actually be living here? Maybe so, since I've been hearing noises like footsteps since I came in, and there's firelight coming from a room up ahead.

 If the journal ends here, assume that they killed me or something.

Entry 4:

Fortunately, I didn't die. Instead, I found another explorer named Beth. Came here following directions to 'the last unexplored place on earth' according to some obscure hiking site she doesn't remember the name of.

She told me she's been here for a few days, running low on supplies, but managed to set up a fire in some strange approximation of a living room, with a sofa and TV made of the same stone as the rest of the building, as if carved from the walls.

She was kind of... intense. She grilled me on how to find a way out of here, and after seeing a knife on her belt, I was a bit worried about what would happen if I said I didn't know.

Beth let me sleep by her fire once I promised I'd lead her out of the city in the morning, but if all goes well I'll be gone before she wakes up. Gonna leave her some food though, I'm not heartless.

I wonder if that's a bad idea. If this place is inescapable, will I have time to do much of anything before I starve? I still don't know anything about this Bizarro Concrete Beach.

Entry 5:


Entry 6:

My head hurts. It's hard to write. And I have to stay quiet. It might come back, and I don't know if I'll get another chance.

I'm Beth now, I think. It was like something shoved me in her head when I-

I was walking down a hallway. It was either sunset or sunrise, I couldn't tell. Something turned the corner, started walking at me, but it wasn't right. It was moving faster than it was walking, and its body was a blur. All I can remember is the plastic wolf mask on its face and the lead pipe in its hand.

Then I woke up as Beth, and the whole world was spinning and I was vomiting and I could still feel the pain in my head. I retraced my steps and found my journal by my corpse.

I'm still me. Simon, I mean. Of course. But I can remember some of her too, how she grew up in Concrete Beach and... I think she was my sister. How could I forget my sister? Why am I my sister? It doesn't make sense.

God, I must be crazy. That graffiti cat just walked across the wall.

I'm gonna follow it.

Entry 8:

That damn cat keeps smiling at me out of the corner of my eye. Is it funny to you that I can't remember which memories I'm supposed to have?

'Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I couldn't tell you apart', its smug little fact seems to say. 'Pieces of you looks so similar to one another.'

I think that's what it's saying. No, it is. Its voice is in my head. I can hea


sorry, another one of the mask things

its face was just a bunch of bugs. 

Entry 10:

All my food's gone. There aren't separate buildings anymore, just staircases and pipes and wires.

The seawall's close now. It's intact, no cracks or anything. And it's too big, like it goes all the way around. Around the ocean? I don't think the ocean is here anymore. Haven't seen any water. I'm up high, but the wall is too thick to see past it.

The top of the wall goes to the horizon.

my dad said that grandpa simon once climbed the wall and didn't come back

Where did he go?

will i disappear too?

The mask guys are watching me from afar now. they're calling me back but i don't want to go near them.

Entry 11:

come to think of it, i've never actually seen the beach. never been one to live on the coast since i was a kid, and we've always had this stupid thing in the way

I'm on the wall now, by the way. I climbed. There was a ladder, i think. Maybe? I had a rope in my bag. climbing gear.

Oh wait, i left my bag with my corpse

whatever, i'm here now. goin to the beach

will they make me wear a bikini? thats a weird thought

Entry 11

it's been weeks

I'm still here

Entry 11

the desert is hot but I am cold

inside my family's car.

we drove miles upon miles

through stark emptiness.

wood-like stone

embedded in the orange sand

marked our journey

as triplet contrails led the way.

looking out at the miles of dust

a primal urge invited me

to the wastes

where I could wait for the stars.

but the only time we left

was to step between shelves

and stare at what we had seen,

wrapped in tight plastic.

when we first stepped

from our metal shell,

i heard that profound silence

like nothing

through stark emptiness

miles and miles I could walk

and not move one inch

across the globe.

Entry 12

It doesn't stop. The grey, everywhere. The clouds in the sky, the concrete beneaht my feat.

I give up. I'm just going to lay here until death takes me


In laying here, i envision

a solid universe

Where instead of space

There is rock, like

A well, filled up with concrete

Instead of worlds, we have spheres of empty space

and can't go too high without digging into the stony heavens 

and here I am

Pinned between the earth and sky

Unable to Breath or move

I think of myself and beth and how i forgot her

And how she forgot me 

And there was nothing missing in our lives for it because we never really knew each other

how could we? never really knew what the other was thinking

until now but now were the same and i think she's gone and i killed her by dying

fucking cat


The edge came to me. I think it's been a few months now. But I'm at the other side of the wall. There's still no water. But there is greenery.

A square of grass, in a dark pit the size of the world. On the side of the grass, there were rows of empty windows, going down, down, down.

I jumped onto the grass. Then jumped below. More towers, and trees. There's snow now. Bigger than trees, were airplanes, floating in an orange sky. Frozen in place, covered in blue ice. Frosty tendrils extended below into the darkness, like spindly trees with great canopies of metal and glass.

Down, down, down, down. No fall could kill me.

At the bottom was gravel. Radiant, rough sand, and blackness all around. And a box. And the cat, sitting before it.


"Did you know..." The cat said, mournfully. "...That isolation is an entirely human concept?"

The cat speaking didn't come as a surprise.

Simon didn't say anything. He just approached the box.

"So is time. And love. And curiosity. And yet, you say 'curiosity kills the cat'? That's a laugh." It spat.

It was a small, wooden box. Inside was the elderly form of Joshua, moaning and crying, despite lacking the top half of his head.

"This is where you did it. Your tomb, Human. Where you drove a wedge between yourself and the unknown." It continued. "You wanted to know so badly. But it got inside you, and you couldn't handle it. So it became a part of you."

The cat turned to Simon, expressionless.

"I'd love to laugh, but it's gone too far now. They don't know what will happen when you come back together. Or if you don't, and the wedge goes home. You took it from somewhere, far past the unknown, and it wants to go back."

Simon shook his head. "I... don't understand." He croaked. His voice was strange. Part Simon. Part Beth. Part everyone. It felt... right.

The cat chuckled and shook its head. "You never could. It would take an eternity for me to remind you. You have a choice here, but I'll take the liberty of making it for you."

The world grew darker around them, the sand losing its glow.

"Don't worry... there will be another Concrete Beach. Both here and there. So long as you sleep and cry, so there must be."

The Cat curled up alongside the Human, and fell asleep.

"They will be angry, but they cannot touch you. You're going to the other Concrete Beach. You took a piece of their world, and now... now you're giving something back.

And then there was nothing.



I woke up, half-submerged in putrid water. The sky was clear above Concrete Beach, and I could see the seawall stretched out before its ruins.

Under the rusty remains of a car, I saw my father's corpse, rotted and moldy, glasses still on his face.

I'm leaving this for anyone who will care. A found a lunchbox, for an old cartoon I wish I still remembered. My message in a bottle.

But what does it matter, anyway? Do I want to warn people to stay away, or tell them not to be afraid?

Maybe... maybe I just want to tell someone. To remember me, and Concrete Beach. maybe connect with someone, even after i'm gone to who knows where

I see it cracking. It won't be long now.

I want to see the ocean. I want to wade into the depths. I want to drown in the unknown.

And I always wondered why the wall had to be so big.

but i think im getting it now

it was never a wall

my god, its a dam


-Excerpt from a journal found in the Sahara Desert, concerning a fictional town called Concrete Beach.